Most career change comes about through serendipity, not linear planning. Research shows that nearly every career choice and career change includes an element of luck or chance. For example, you run into an old college friend who tells you about a job opening in his company. You hadn’t considered this field but you take the job and discover you have an aptitude.
True Story: A medical social worker moved to a small town with his significant other. Finding no demand for his services, he accepted a clerical job with a real estate agency. He grew restless, so he studied for his real estate license to become an agent. He found his first client when he overheard a conversation in a coffee shop.
Three years later, he was the top real estate agent in the county – a career he would never have anticipated by logical planning. He would have scored near the bottom on any test measuring interest in real estate and aptitude for sales.
Following a long job hunt, an attorney reluctantly accepted a job in the finance field. She had never been interested in finance and scored low on math aptitude. To her surprise, she soon realized she enjoyed the job. Her firm encouraged her to take finance courses and one day she realized she loves what she’s doing. She has received bonuses and promotions.
Both these examples are true. Many of us find our new careers by answering an ad we stumbled across by accident. That’s certainly what happened to me.
After years of working in corporate jobs, I answered an ad to teach in a small private college. I had taught part-time in a community college but hadn’t considered a full-time teaching career. Teaching came naturally to me and I found myself thinking, “Why not?” So I enrolled in a doctoral program and embarked on a 20-year career.